It’s something of a birthday present for Perez, who turns 24 years old today. He quickly finds himself a new job after being released by the Astros last week. He had been on their 40-man roster until they acquired Justin Verlander, which led to Perez being designated for assignment and clearing waivers.
The ’Stros selected him in the second round of the 2017 draft but injuries and the pandemic would limit his opportunities in the years to come. By the start of 2021, he had only played in 54 games as a professional. But 2021 was something of a breakout for him, as he was finally healthy and able to thrive. He hit 18 home runs in 106 games across three different levels, going from Single-A to High-A and Double-A. His .291/.354/.495 batting line amounted to a wRC+ of 125.
The Astros added him to their 40-man roster that November to protect him from being selected in the Rule 5 draft and he went into 2022 considered the club’s #5 prospect at Baseball America and #8 at FanGraphs. He got the briefest of debuts in April of that year, striking out in one plate appearance before getting optioned back to the minors. Shortly thereafter, the injury bug bit him again, with an oblique strain putting him out of action for a couple of months. He was eventually able to get into 83 minor league games that year, hitting .290/.359/.417 for a wRC+ of 103.
Coming into this season, BA still had him ranked 13th in the Astros’ system but he hasn’t had a great year. His .255/.328/.399 Triple-A batting line amounts to a wRC+ of 74 in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. FanGraphs released their Astros prospect list in June and had Perez down at #36.
Despite his subpar results this year, it’s a sensible pickup for the Pirates. Perez is not too far removed from being a top 10 prospect with Houston and missed a lot of time due to injuries and the pandemic. He’s still young and could perhaps still develop with more reps. Defensively, he’s primarily been a third baseman but has also spent time at first, second and the outfield corners. If he is able to get a roster spot, he will still have one option year remaining after this one.